We’ve got six Thursday games and four best bets from our NBA experts. With some quality games on the national TV slate — Suns vs. Hawks (7:30 p.m. ET) and Lakers vs. Clippers (10 p.m. ET) — our crew is rounding out today’s column with two other games from around the association.
You can check out their analysis and best bets for Wednesday night below.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Phoenix Suns vs. Atlanta Hawks||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Los Angeles Lakers vs. L.A. Clippers||10 p.m. ET|
|Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors||10 p.m. ET|
Phoenix Suns vs. Atlanta Hawks
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
Raheem Palmer: We gave this out on the Buckets Thursday Workshop, but this is what I like to call a fire drill over. You see it regularly in the NFL when you have two high powered explosive offensive teams and it’s such an obvious over that it’s a race to the sportsbooks to get the best of the number before it moves.
That’s what we have here in tonight’s matchup between the Suns and the Hawks, who rank second and third in Offensive Rating both putting up per 100 numbers north 114 points. These two teams should put up a dominant performance as they did in their last meeting on Nov. 6, a 121-117 thriller with the Suns outscoring the Hawks 35-19 to get the come from behind victory.
In that matchup, the Suns were just 14-of-43 (32.6%) from behind the arc, well below their season averages of 37.6% — fourth among NBA teams. The Hawks are 21st in opponent 3-point frequency with 38.2% of opponent field goals coming from behind the arc and they’re 22nd in opponent 3-point shooting percentage (36.1%), so the Suns should perform better offensively than they did in the first matchup. The Suns are second in Defensive Rating (106.0) however over the past two weeks they’ve slipped to 14th allowing 111.4 points per 100 possessions.
It’s tough to consistently play tough defensive during the long grind of the regular season especially when the offense can win you games. I expect Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks to do their part in matching point for point with Chris Paul and Devin Booker. I’ll play the over up to 227.
Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors
|Pick||Ayo Dosunmu Over 4.5 AST | 6+ AST | 8+ AST | 10+ AST|
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Joe Dellera: Can we call Ayo Dosunmu a rookie phenom yet? He could sit the rest of the season and he would already be a legend with the way he has absolutely crushed the books over his last 10 games.
At first, we could not be sure that Dosunmu’s involvement and facilitating was just because of absences to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, but they’ve both returned to the lineup and Dosunmu has continued to smash. He’s seen a significant uptick in his assist rate, and over his last 10 he has an assist rate of 22.0% while leading all Rookies over his last 10 games with 11.9 potential assists per game and 6.5 actual assists per game.
Moreover, this 22.0% assist rate is second highest on the team, and yes, that includes Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso who are both out with injury. I’m at the point where I literally stay up to bet on his assists prop the night before, and even though we are not getting the absolute best of this line at the time of this writing, over 4.5 (-105) is still 100% in play around the betting market.
Ayo has cleared this line — and 6+ (+134) — in seven of his last 10 games, he has cleared 8+ (+340) in five of 10, and 10+ (+1000) in two of 10. Based on his recent performance and the implied odds here, I’m going to escalate his assists prop up to 10.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. L.A. Clippers
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Kenny Ducey: The Lakers are at it again. They’ve now gone 5-4 against the spread in their last nine, which is no small feat for a team that is 22-30 ATS in all games this year. It’s also particularly impressive for a club that is playing without LeBron James. He’s missed four straight games and will likely sit out again against the Clippers on Thursday.
That’s no problem, though, because the Lakers have found something in Russell Westbrook since making him the primary ball-handler with James out as Raheem Palmer noted yesterday. Westbrook is averaging fewer than four turnovers per game in his last four, scoring 21 points per game and shooting 49.2% from the field. He’s even shooting 44.4% from behind the arc, which is eye-catching.
This Lakers team actually ranks 12th in offensive rating over the last four games, while their defense has predictably fallen apart and ranks near the bottom of the league.
The good news here is that the Clippers rank 19th in offense in the last two weeks and have survived off the strength of their defense. With that, I’m not sure how big of a liability this defense will be, and I’d set this line closer to a pick‘em. With the Lakers 4-2 ATS on the second night of a back-to-back, I think they’re a solid play on Thursday’s slate.
Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors
|Pick||Kings +660 ML|
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Brandon Anderson: This pick is not for the faint of heart.
The Sacramento Kings are very bad. The Golden State Warriors are very good. Those two sentences have been true all season and for the better part of a decade now. It’s usually a pretty good idea to pick the Warriors to beat the Kings. The Warriors are No. 2 in the West and the Kings are the 13th. The Kings are on a road back-to-back. The Warriors are rested, at home, and riding a seven-game winning streak with the league’s No. 1 defense.
That’s why the Warriors are heavily favored in this one at -13.5, and to be clear, Golden State should absolutely be favored. The Kings have lost seven of eight and will be without franchise player De’Aaron Fox tonight. But dig a little deeper and there are reasons to believe this game could be surprisingly close.
First, the absence of Fox should not hurt the Kings much. He’s been pretty bad this year, a significant step back and the worst season since his rookie debut, and his absence leaves more playing time and usage for Sacramento’s actual best player, Tyrese Haliburton. Harrison Barnes typically plays well in a revenge spot against the Warriors, and Richaun Holmes should get some nice scoring opportunities against a small Golden State team missing Draymond Green.
Oh, right, that guy, the reason the Warriors rank first in Defensive Rating. Golden State’s defense is nowhere near the same without Draymond. The Warriors may have won the last seven without Green, but they were 4-7 the rest of the season without him, and the defense — and offense, to an extent — have cratered without Draymond.
The Ws may also be without their actual third best player so far this season, not sham All Star Andrew Wiggins but rather Otto Porter, an efficient scorer and versatile team player. And while the Warriors have won seven straight, five of those games were competitive down to the wire.
Look, it’s still the KANGZ. Don’t make this bet if you’re not willing to feel silly when the Warriors are up 25 after a 14-2 third quarter run. Totally in play. But there are myriad reasons to believe this line is overinflated, and when Buddy Hield and Stephen Curry are involved, there’s always the chance the right guy gets hot for us.
At +660, that’s an implied 13% chance of a Kings victory, implying an 87% chance of a Warriors win. I just can’t get there, nor anywhere close, not without Green, and not with Curry still struggling and Haliburton in an elevated role. If you prefer to play the moneyline, go for it, but if this is close, I want a shot at the win and a big payout.